False in Some Sense

Clap If You Believe; Chapter 4

Sunday, April 5, 2009, around 1:00 AM

As Chuck is driving away from the woods with Elena, Jim, Paul, and Jake, as Billy Jack’s friend introduced himself, Paul suggests that people should be called and warned. Elena calls Agatha, while Paul calls Katrina. Chuck instructs them to direct people to the “Lake House.”

Agatha, meanwhile, is asleep and awakens to Elena’s call. She indicates that she does not understand why they won’t just come to Chuck’s house, but she starts gathering things.

Katrina is with her friends and family in her apartment, talking. She takes the call, and once Paul is finished, she tells her friends that a friend of hers has invited them to come to their house outside of town, framing it as a social gathering. She looks pointedly at “James,” and while they are getting ready, she explains that there is some emergency, and everybody is gathering away from town. They gather themselves and start to go to the “Lake House.”

Chuck also instructs Elena to call Agent Sklar to warn him, which she does. Likewise, Chuck calls Mrs. Bishop to inform her of things. Both are instructed to call if they need anything or have further information, and they likewise instruct the group to call if they learn anything further.

Paul asks to be dropped off at his car, which is unfortunately by the woods. Chuck drives back, and not encountering anyone, continues on his way. Paul tells him not to slow significantly; he’ll just jump out of the moving vehicle. He does so, and misses the car, rolling a couple of times before picking himself up and getting into his car.

Likewise, Jake and Jim ask to be dropped off at their cars. Jim indicates that he will meet up with people later.

While driving, Chuck notes that Paul’s car falls into place behind him.

Around this time, Agatha calls again, having found a small, white mp3 player with speakers plugged into an outlet in the kitchen. It does not match anything that either of them own. When she asks if she should play it, Chuck says that she should, and hears a message about how whatever entity recorded the message is testing his dedication to the Hunt. Specifically, whatever thing has replaced Angela Johnson has been put in his basement along with whatever tools might be useful to examine her. Since there should be some rioting and chaos in town, her disappearance will not be missed.

After some discussion over the phone, Agatha says that she will go downstairs but leave Chuck on speaker phone. When she flicks on the light switch, another mp3 player switches on, playing Fats Waller’s rendition of “Dem Bones.” She walks into the basement to find it covered in clear, plastic tarpaulins. A folding table is set up in the middle of the room and Angela is lying on it, handcuffed to the table and wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap. She is gagged, but awake. A tray of examination and dissection tools is next to her.

Agatha explains the scene to Chuck, who indicates that he will be over soon. Agatha then leaves Angela downstairs while waiting for Chuck to return home.

When he does, Elena and Paul watch the windows for any of the creatures running through town while he and Agatha go downstairs. He removes the gag and indicates that he is not going to do anything to her, which surprises her, as she seems to have thought that he was the one who brought her here; she did not see her assailant. Since he indicates that he will let her go, she admits that she might be a Fetch and might be working for the Doctor. Chuck goes upstairs to discuss with everyone what they ought to do, and they decide to let her go on the grounds that for whatever she might be, whatever brought her to be dissected is probably worse. He returns downstairs to explain this fact, and she asks to be let go and if she can have some clothes. Agatha gets her some clothes, and everyone agrees to gather their equipment and take her home before going to the “Lake House.”

After letting Katrina know that they will be a little late, they are all ready to go when Paul spots the man with the burlap bag over his head, the crazed woman with a silver dress, and the giant cockroach walking down the street. They decide to slip out the back, but they end up blundering into the group. They drop their things and prepare for battle; Agatha and Chuck have their shotguns out, while Elena has her makeshift iron nails shoved through a wooden bar.

The cockroach sits, waiting, while Elena runs at the woman, punching at her with her iron claws and ripping open a large, ragged wound on her face that bleeds black. The woman tries to retaliate with her shimmering rapier, but Elena is far too fast for her to land a solid blow. Agatha fires at the cockroach with her shotgun, tearing through its carapace and breaking its concentration. The burlap-masked man with the axe leaps into the fray, delivering a powerful axe blow across Elena’s chest. Paul tries to hit him, but misses in the confusion. Chuck fires a shotgun blast at the woman, striking her in the leg, and Angela starts to run away. In the following confusion, the woman finally falls. The cockroach leaps forward and generates a cloud of choking dust, slowing everyone significantly. Nevertheless, a second shotgun blast sends the beast running. With the burlap-masked man still active, and quite handy with his axe, Paul manages to occupy his attention until he can be dealt with. Elena and Chuck both collapse, heavily fatigued from the grayish dust, and Agatha manages to finish the masked man off with a solid blow from her cane, despite the rather savage wound he manages to deal to her right arm—. Finally, as she and Paul try to gather everything again, she collapses as she attempts to look under his mask.

Everyone awakens in Chuck’s house, apparently having been returned there by Paul. Once they have haphazardly bandaged their wounds and let Katrina know they will be a little late, while also informing Mrs. Bishop and Agent Sklar that they were attacked, they once again gather their things and run to the car, driving toward the “Lake House.”

Clap If You Believe; Chapter 3

Monday, March 30, 2009, around 4:00 PM and throughout the following week

On his way home, Chuck drops by Billy Jack’s house to see how he is doing. He notes that his truck is missing.

Chuck and Elena meet to discuss what has happened with Angela Johnson. After a brief discussion, they decide that Chuck will call Angela to meet her at the coffee shop. Elena, meanwhile, will go ahead to provide support if he needs it. Chuck calls to invite her out for coffee, then waits for Elena to leave so that he can go to the coffee shop in about five or ten minutes.

Elena arrives and starts working on homework. When Ms. Johnson arrives, they exchange greetings. A little later, Chuck arrives, gets a cup of coffee, and sits with her. They exchange pleasantries before he reveals that he knows her to be a Fetch, and asks her what happened to the real Angela. She responds by claiming ignorance and suggesting that Chuck needs help, though Chuck notes that she knows more than she claims. After the conversation goes to its logical conclusion and she leaves, circling the coffee shop once and then leaving totally, Chuck texts Elena to ask how she thought the meeting went. Elena indicates that it was not good, but it is now done. After discussing briefly, the two go their separate ways.

Meanwhile, Katrina goes to Bishop’s Antiquities to talk to Mrs. Bishop and to purchase some iron implements. Mrs. Bishop lets her know that Michael already did so, as well as letting her know that she received the message Katrina sent, and then proceeds to inform her of her findings. She says that the Market she has encountered has the means to teach Michael how to summon the Fae, as some people seemed interested in bringing them to earth and dealing with them that way. She also indicated that her attempts to find the man who visited Chuck in the hospital were in vain; an associate of hers tried to perform divination on the subject, but was unresponsive for an extended period and returned her money — something the merchants at this Market only rarely do. She repeated the fact that she is not really familiar with demons, but would be inclined to think that this man was something more frightening. After this, Katrina takes some tea, looks around the shop, and goes home.

When she gets home and tells Michael these things, he calls Chuck to inform him about the ability to learn how to call the True Fae. Chuck says that he should look into it, but that they may not go that route if they can determine a better method. Michael also mentions that he has not had the opportunity to visit with people in some time, and he and Chuck, along with Katrina and Agatha, agree to have dinner at the Emerald Dragon the following evening.

When Agatha gets home, she reveals the iron implements she received the other day. She also calls Katrina to offer her some, and when she says that she has acquired some, Agatha calls Elena to offer her a horseshoe to hang in her room. She says that she may consider such.

During this time, Billy Jack has traveled to Indianapolis to talk to his other hunter contacts in an attempt to garner support and gather items. His contact, Freddy Robinson, says he will see if he can find somebody with ready access to iron and a forge. He also indicates that he will see if he can get support, but since Billy Jack is preparing for things on Saturday, he says that they are planning on hitting a vampire nest that night and he doesn’t know how much support they will find. Billy Jack finds a trucker motel and decides to wait until Freddy makes contact again. He does, however, take the opportunity to go scrounging for iron implements, and he manages to find a wrought iron gate, which he purchases. He also sends a text message to Chuck telling him to meet him by the forest gate at 11 PM on Saturday, and to bring iron. He does not respond further to any calls.

Chuck responds by sending this information to everyone, and advising them not to go without further details.

That night, Elena has a mildly disquieting dream, but cannot recall the details precisely upon waking.

The next day, Tuesday, everybody goes about their respective routines. Jim is training, Elena is going to school, Agatha, Chuck, and Katrina all have work. Jim calls his superiors and lets them know that he feels as if he is in over his head; that they ought to extract him and send somebody else. He feels that he would be better suited to actual field duty with a trained unit, and his superiors tell him that they will consider this course of action.

While at work, Chuck leaves his office and returns to be greeted by Agent Sklar. They exchange greetings, and Agent Sklar explains why he is there; Terra Lake needed outside expertise and equipment to dredge the lake in the missing persons case about Johnny Page. He also reveals what he knows; preliminary analysis suggests that somebody was shot on the site. Additionally, a large fish was shot with the same caliber rifle; more information will be revealed as analysis is completed. Chuck mentions the fisherman he saw by the lake, Tyrell Washington, and Chuck also mentions the gun that Officer Hayward gave to him. Agent Sklar says that he will look into both things, and can attempt to trace the gun if he has access to it. Chuck says he will get it to him later. Agent Sklar then takes his leave, and Chuck only has a short time to prepare before he is called to report on the investigation by the lake.

During a break, Chuck texts Elena to call him. She excuses herself from class and calls him, whereupon he reveals what he knows. She indicates that it doesn’t sound like something Johnny would do, and leaves it at that.

At some point, Katrina also sends Billy Jack a text letting her know that she would like to arm herself with iron, if at all possible.

During the day, Freddy Robinson calls Billy Jack to let him know that a friend of his, Fred Winters, is an automotive mechanic who also works with different metals for fighting things. He gives Billy Jack contact information, and Billy Jack calls Fred Winters. The two decide to meet in the evening so that Billy Jack can use his forge. Before going, he takes a torch to the gate to break it into individual segments. He grinds the points, and attaches a handle to one of the five he makes. He also acquires a crossbow from a sporting goods store.

That evening, he goes to Fred Winters’ garage and spends three hours making crossbow bolts and a few beartraps. He pays Fred for the iron ore that he used, and takes his leave.

Meanwhile, Agatha, Chuck, Katrina, and Michael all go out for dinner. Conversation is rather light, though when Chuck is explaining to the others about the large fish that was found, Agent Sklar sends him a picture shortly thereafter of the monstrous thing.

Elena also has an opportunity to hang out with people when Paul calls, asking if they are still on for next week — next week being their Spring Break road trip to Las Vegas — and what, if anything, there is to do in town. They end up hanging out, and when she mentions the fight on Saturday, he says that he does not mind heading out a little later, and he will definitely help fight whatever arrives.

That night, Billy Jack makes a late-night trip to Terra Lake to deliver his makeshift wrought iron spear to Katrina. He places it in a rose box, and leaves a short note.

Also, Elena has an erotic dream about Agent Sklar, though he has completely black eyes and bears the incisors of a rabbit.

In the morning, Katrina sends a text message to thank Billy Jack for the gift, though she does not receive a response. Everyone’s day goes fairly quietly, as such things do. Chuck arranges a meeting on Thursday night to discuss the developments with Billy Jack. He also invites Agent Sklar. Likewise, when Elena gets the invitation, she invites Paul.

Billy Jack, meanwhile, is trying to recruit fellow hunters to stand with him in Terra Lake. After scaring a large number off with the godlike power of the Doctor, he manages to gather two who agree to travel with him. He also goes on patrol once or twice.

That night, Elena has an intense dream of being chased through tunnels and woods. She awakens in a cold sweat, though she is unmolested by bad dreams upon returning to sleep.

The following day, Thursday, the day is fairly quiet until meeting time. Agatha, Chuck, Elena, Jim, Katrina, and Paul assemble at Chuck’s house. When Agent Sklar arrives, he begins by telling Chuck that he didn’t find anything noteworthy on Tyrell Washington, and that a test firing of the gun indicates that its ballistics traces do not match anything on record. He then explains the situation with Johnny to everyone; that testing suggests two different people’s blood at the crime scene. Apparently, one victim was shot once in the head and once in the torso before falling to the ground. The assailant then approached and performed an execution shot to the head to finish the job. Presumably while engaging in some activity by the lake, a large, carnivorous fish dragged itself onto land and bit the assailant before being felled with three rifle shots. All six shots were fired with the same .300 rifle. Additionally, sonar has found a shape resembling the Page family’s early nineties model Honda Accord in the lake, along with some larger shapes. They will probably have to dredge the lake, as well as capture some fish to find any human remains. Once he has revealed this information, Agent Sklar takes his leave as he senses that everyone else is waiting for him to go to discuss their business.

Once he has gone, Chuck begins discussing the issue with Billy Jack. He assumes that Billy Jack is prepared to call the Fae out of hiding and fight them, but he is also aware that the limited contact he has had suggests that something could be horribly wrong; Billy Jack might be possessed by a demon, or otherwise deranged and setting a trap. Chuck says that he will not attend. Since Katrina has family coming to town on Friday, and because he is not contacting, she will not attend. Agatha says she does not know. Elena, Jim, and Paul all agree to go, if only because the only way to know what is happening is to do something. Chuck agrees with this, and considers going. He eventually concedes to go ahead of time to make sure there is not a trap, and he and Jim decide to check out the site at around 8:00 PM. During this, Paul says he will try to determine if he can figure out where Billy Jack went, so he goes to his house. After about an hour, he calls back saying he did not find anything. Then, everyone goes to their respective homes to sleep and prepare.

Friday is remarkably quiet. Other than the typical array of work and school, Katrina and “James,” as he is introduced to everyone, go to Indianapolis to pick up Katrina’s relatives and friends from Russia, Yuri, Dimitri, and Mishka. After introductions are made, with James greeting everyone in Russian — and revealing to Katrina that he had been secretly learning Russian to better converse with her and her family — they return to Katrina’s apartment to hang out.

The next day, Elena goes to work, packs her bags and tells her parents “Good bye” — having told them that she is going to cheerleading camp — and then hangs out with Paul until it is time to go to the woods.

Likewise, Chuck and Jim arrive with what little equipment they have at about 8:00 PM and wait. Elena and Paul arrive shortly before 11:00 PM, and Billy Jack and Duke arrive at that time with some military bags full of equipment. After again giving Chuck his admonishments about not asking him what he had to do during his time away, he starts digging a pit and setting up bear traps. After his two associates from Indianapolis arrive and he learns that they do not have iron weapons, he gives them two of his spikes while giving the other to Jim. He places the last one within the pit and hides all of his traps. The plan is simple: after he calls the Doctor using a technique he learned, they herd anything that comes through the gate into the traps. After he gets in an argument with Chuck, he asks Chuck to leave, and Chuck does. Likewise, Paul starts admonishing him for not planning with the others, and since he does not like Paul’s tone, he asks him to leave. Elena follows him, leaving only Billy Jack, Jim, and his two associates from Indianapolis.

Chuck, meanwhile, walks back to his car, but waits to see what might happen. Likewise, Elena and Paul wait within earshot.

Billy Jack, Jim, and the others prepare themselves, and then Billy Jack uses the technique he has apparently learned, shouting for the crazy bastard to come out. When nothing happens, Billy Jack gets frustrated, but just when he is about to try again, the gateway opens. Out of it steps the Doctor, as well as eight other things. These include a large, pale crab covered in beads and bangles and carrying a bone rattle; a slim Gray alien with black-and-white mime paint, with the lips forming an exaggerated smile; a wiry, muscular man with a burlap sack over his head featuring a smile painted in blood wearing a pair of tattered jeans and wielding an axe; a hook-nosed, green-skinned goblin with a shock of hair and spider legs; a six-foot-long serpent with a feathered mane and a roguish grin; a large cockroach, faintly glowing green and with markings resembling a skull on the wingcase; a lovely, pale woman with black hair wearing a silver dress and wielding a shimmering rapier; and a large spider bearing four, leering, human faces where its eyes should be. The Doctor, in typical fashion, appears too grand and awesome to attack. At the sight of these things boiling out of the portal, Billy Jack panics and abandons all pretense of planning, firing a wild crossbow bolt at the large crab, which imbeds into its carapace with a sizzling sound, blackening the shell around it. Chuck, Elena, and Paul all move to listen to the increased noise. The cockroach scuttles into the fray, shaking and twitching and kicking up a cloud of choking dust that sets Billy Jack, Jim, and the other two associates to coughing. Jim manages to regain himself quickly enough to run, and one of Billy Jack’s associates does likewise. The crazed woman leaps forward and stabs Billy Jack’s remaining associate with her rapier, while the spider glowers at Billy Jack with its faces and he loses consciousness. The Gray in mime paint shifts into the form of a large, bipedal hyena, and the man with the burlap sack over his head slashes at Billy Jack’s dazed remaining associate with his axe. Finally, the serpent hurls an insult at the remaining hunter, and he loses consciousness.

With the opposition scattered or vanquished, Elena starts yelling as the horde converges on the Doctor to defend him as he picks up Billy Jack and takes him through the forest gate. As Elena gets louder and the creatures start to turn in their direction, Chuck pulls up to offer them a ride, and Elena and Paul jump in his car. As he passes Jim and the other hunter, he offers them a ride. As Chuck drives past the lake, he shouts for someone to fire into it, and drives around it as Jim fires into the lake, hoping to agitate the carnivorous fish in the lake. Then, Chuck pulls away from the lake and back onto the road.

Clap If You Believe; Chapter 2

Saturday, March 28, 2009, around 5:00 PM (and throughout the next two days)

Once away from the rest of the group, Billy Jack immediately speeds home and starts to prepare. He puts crosses around his home and starts fortifying his defenses, confident that he has enough food and traps to withstand any siege. He waits at his window with his shotgun, ready for whatever might come to his home.

Agatha goes back to Chuck’s house, and calls Billy Jack; when it goes straight to voicemail, she leaves a message. Elena goes home to work on homework. Jim goes back to his hotel room to file a report. Katrina goes home to see Michael and tell him what happened.

Chuck, meanwhile, goes home to get some spraypaint. He returns to paint a smiley face over the serpent on the wall in the caves. When finished, he calls Billy Jack; when it goes straight to voicemail, he leaves a message. Then, he makes his way over to Billy Jack’s house.

Chuck arrives at Billy Jack’s house to find his big rig parked haphazardly outside, along with several crosses hung outside the building. All the lights are off as if no one is home. Chuck walks up the sidewalk and knocks on the door. After a moment, the door flies open and Billy Jack grabs Chuck, pulling him into the house, closing the door, and telling him to get down. Billy Jack crouches by the window with his shotgun at the ready. Chuck crouches down, as well, telling him that the others are willing to help him out. Billy Jack instead says that he doesn’t need their help, not right now; he’s hunkering down for a couple of weeks, and he will contact everyone again when he is sure the danger has passed. No, he will not be answering his cell phone. No, he does not want to talk about what happened today. He does say that Chuck or Elena or somebody needs to talk to Johnny, because he’s getting into something, and without guidance he will get too deep to be saved. If they cannot find the time to talk to him, whenever this thing blows over, Billy Jack will talk to his parents. When nothing further develops, they exchange farewells and Chuck leaves. He does make certain to call everyone and let them know that Billy Jack is okay, but does not want to be bothered and does not want to talk about the events of the day. Everyone continues with their routines until they go to sleep.

Chuck is awakened by the front door as he realizes that someone is inside the house. He slips out of bed, gets his shotgun, and calls 911 to let them know. Meanwhile, he hears the footsteps ascending the stairs. As the doorknob to his room turns, he points the shotgun at the door. When the door swings open, Chuck lets out a yell that startles the intruder and awakens Agatha. He sees a very tall, athletic fellow with Nordic features and a royal blue jumpsuit standing at his door. Chuck notes that he seems odd to his sight. He tells the man that the police have been called. The man, in return, indicates that it is very inconvenient that Chuck is awake; he then gestures at Chuck’s cell phone, which crackles and stops working. Agatha, meanwhile, peeks out of her room with her shotgun and sees the man standing there — whom she recognizes as the Draconian Doctor of Dread Dark from her previous dream. He notes her, and she shouts to Chuck that it’s the Doctor. When they get ready to fire, they find that the Doctor is far too impressive a being for them to shoot, almost like defacing a priceless work of art. Chuck tells Agatha to return to her room. The Doctor tells Chuck to go to sleep, and when he does not comply, he turns to leave. Chuck follows him to make certain he leaves, and the Doctor leaves the house and enters a black sedan. Two Men in Black are driving, and the car speeds off into the night. Chuck notes the license plate, which is an apple, a triangle, and a human eye looking around the street. He then goes back into the house to call Jim, who says he will make his way over.

Within a couple of minutes, the police arrive. Chuck notes that one of them seems odd, and he makes a point of talking to the other one. They take the appropriate information, and Chuck gives his story — leaving out a few of the weirder elements. While describing the man, he notes that Officer Dahl — the one who seems off — looks crestfallen; completely broken, as if he might go home and kill himself. Before they leave, Agatha, having come out by this point, puts a hand on his shoulder, but he doesn’t seem to pay attention. The pair drive off.

Jim arrives shortly, and Chuck lets him know what happened. After Agatha and Chuck have a discussion about Fetches — with Chuck saying that it doesn’t matter because they’re not really people, and Agatha saying that they’re just living their lives and their deaths still impact their families — ending when she goes upstairs in a huff. After she leaves, Jim asks Chuck how attached he is to the town, and Chuck indicates that he would like to stay. Realizing that the Doctor may go elsewhere, Jim calls Elena and Chuck calls Katrina to warn them that the Doctor appeared and to be on the lookout. Elena goes back to bed, but Katrina and Michael are up the rest of the night, just in case. Jim and Chuck stay up, as well, drinking coffee. Unable to sleep, it is not too long before Agatha joins them. Despite knowing that he cannot reach him, Chuck also calls Billy Jack to leave a message.

The next day, everybody goes about their respective routines. Both Katrina and Jim call Mrs. Bishop — getting her voicemail — to warn her that the Doctor was about. Elena is working. Agatha is going about her business. Chuck goes to church, and then drives past Billy Jack’s house, continuing on his way when he sees that Billy Jack’s truck is not there. By this time, everyone has noticed that they are being followed intermittently by residents of Terra Lake; when one gets shaken or loses interest, another takes up the trail.

Meanwhile, Billy Jack goes out to the woods a little before noon, taking a hunting rifle and a tree stand. He parks his truck a ways away and hikes to a spot with a clear view of the lake, setting up there. Within a couple of hours, an older Honda Accord parks by the lake and Johnny steps out. Billy Jack takes aim at his head and fires, grazing the left side of his head. A bewildered and bleeding Johnny swiftly glances around, and seeing Billy Jack in the tree stand, starts to run for his car. He doesn’t make it; instead, Billy Jack fires another shot into his side, and he collapses. Billy Jack then climbs down the tree and goes to look; finding that Johnny is still alive but breathing in a shallow fashion, he puts the rifle to his head and finishes the job.

His work done, Billy Jack goes to break down the tree stand. Then, he returns and decides to throw Johnny’s body into the lake. He gets him most of the way there when a very large fish — easily ten feet long — leaps out of the water, flopping onto land, and bites him on the calf. Billy Jack tosses the body in the lake and then runs to get his rifle. He gets a shot off as the large fish bites him again in the knee, clipping it in the face with a rifle bullet. He puts some distance between himself and the slow-moving fish and takes a couple more shots, finally putting the thing down. He then hops into the car, puts it in neutral, and sends it into the lake. He walks into the woods, makes his way into the cave, cuts his hand to open the gateway to the other place, and throws his rifle as far as it will go. He waits for the gate to close, and then returns to his truck and goes home.

Later that afternoon, Chuck again visits Billy Jack. Chuck makes sure that he is doing all right, and Billy Jack again mentions talking to Johnny, because he is liable to get in some sort of trouble. He also indicates that if Chuck continues to inquire about the events of the previous day, Billy Jack will be forced to use force to dissuade him. He also indicates that Chuck should not return here. Chuck agrees to leave, and after doing so, calls Elena at work. He explains that Billy Jack said one of them should call Johnny or else Billy Jack will be forced to talk to his parents. Elena agrees to do so, and after hanging up with Chuck, calls Johnny’s house. Learning that he is not home, she just tells his parents to tell him that she called.

The rest of the day proceeds quietly, with everyone going about their business. As the day ends, everyone goes to sleep.

The next day, everyone awakens and prepares for the day. Agatha and Chuck get ready for work, as do Katrina and Michael in their own residence. Billy Jack stays in his house, continuing to await the coming storm. Jim gets ready, planning to go to Bishop’s Antiquities when it opens.

Elena, however, finds her routine interrupted in the middle of dressing. She hears a knock on her window and covers herself to find a small, green, goblin thing with a heavy coat and a pack clinging to her window; as if it needed to be said, the little thing appears strange to her sight. She screams, and after reassuring her mother when she comes to the door, she says that the goblin has to wait a moment before entering. She shuts the blinds and finishes dressing, then lets the little thing in. After asking what precisely he is, to no avail, she asks what he wants. He explains that he understands that she has some scars of which she would like to rid herself, and he can do that for the memory of whatever ceremony opens the door to the dead in the caves in the woods. To sweeten the deal he even throws in a spider silk shawl, which she notes as just a lace shawl. She agrees, so he pulls out a bottle and peels off the scars on her chest as if they were makeup, then shaking her hand, handing her the shawl, and taking his leave. Her scars gone, she changes into a low-cut shirt and makes her way to school.

At work, Chuck hears that Officer Dahl killed himself Sunday evening, and he also hears that there is a missing persons report out for Johnny Page.

Meanwhile, Elena hears that Johnny is missing at school. Additionally, she notes that Ms. Johnson, the biology teacher, now registers as being wrong to her sight; furthermore, she is wearing a lower-cut blouse than normal, and in general acting with a strange confidence. Nobody else seems to notice, although Elena manages to catch the eye of Mr. Webb, the school’s janitor, and she realizes that he notices, too.

She sends a text message to Chuck to ask him about Johnny and to let him know about Fetch-Johnson. He indicates that he doesn’t know about the former and most emphatically did not know about the latter; it’s certainly a new development. The two agree to meet after she gets out of school and Chuck gets out of work.

At the end of the day, Elena seeks out Mr. Webb to talk to him. He indicates that she looks the same, but she acts almost like a totally different person; when Elena asks, he indicates that he does not get this feeling often at all, not even in town. He just says that it pays to watch one’s surroundings. However, he seems interested when Elena indicates that the town has many strange occurrences, and he concedes that there is an abnormally high disappearance rate. He also notes that the scars she previously sustained are missing. They agree to let each other know if one notices something strange before Elena leaves.

Clap If You Believe; Chapter 1

Tuesday, March 3, 2009, during the evening and throughout the following weeks

That same day, Katrina gets an opportunity to speak to Mrs. Bishop, informing her that she lost the baby, and that the Fetch-child should no longer be an issue. She additionally asks about the slavers who tried to take her, and the strange man who spoke to Chuck and took the fetal remains from the hospital. Mrs. Bishop explains what she found about the children of Fetches. Apparently, some are said to be relatively normal, if a bit precocious, but are somehow anathema to the True Fae; either their presence is bothersome, or their blood is actually poisonous to them. On the other hand, some are completely antisocial, and disappear into the Hedge on their twenty-first birthdays, for some unknown purpose. Likewise, she further explains, in relation to the slavers, that she hosts — though she does not actually run — something of a black market for changelings and their ilk. She says that there is not an active slave trade at the local market — that was one of the terms of her hosting the thing — but that it does happen, and might be happening without her knowledge. She says she does not know who might want to purchase the fetus, but she can look into it. Katrina thanks her and goes about her business.

Also on that same day, Elena receives visitors from school. Among others, Johnny attends to see how she is doing and reassure her that he has not gone crazy. Jim Soldati spends that night, and he and Agent Sklar decide to alternate nights. Agent Sklar tells him, as he has told the others, that he will likely be leaving soon. He also tells Jim that he should be watching Perkona Biotechnologies, which recently bought Phoenix Chemicals.

The next day, March 4, Jim starts calling people to ask about whatever happened to Michael. Chuck passes him off to Agatha, and Agatha explains everything that occurred up to the point where he returned; instead, she indicates that she does not know under what circumstances he might return.

That same day, Johnny ends up meeting Jim and Paul when both arrive in Elena’s hospital room. Johnny gives Paul a startled glance as he leaves. Paul checks on Elena before leaving her with Jim.

That evening, Agent Sklar stays the night, as per the agreement. Elena speaks to him with a certain level of candor, in the hopes of cultivating a relationship that might be consummated when she turns eighteen.

On March 5, Elena asks Johnny about the look he gave Paul. He indicates that Paul is different somehow; he has a strange creature living in his chest. Johnny would have to examine him further to give more details.

On March 6, Billy Jack and Jim both realize that they are being followed — various people on a seemingly random rotation. When Billy Jack realizes this, he reacts violently. He tries to assault the young woman whom he deems to be following him, but he ends up going to the police station. When he finds himself in the interrogation room, he is greeted by one of the Men in Black — strange men with black suits and oddly angular features. This one greets him and proceeds to start beating the crap out of him. Since he was not disarmed first, he goes for his gun and gets a couple of shots off, but the Man in Black beats him into unconsciousness.

He awakens later that evening, without his gun. Seeing that Duke is upset, he calls Chuck to ensure that he is not a Fetch; Chuck says that he feels normal. When Billy Jack calls the police to report his gun missing, Chuck also calls his friends in the department and learns that the interrogating officer is listed as Francis Hayward, though there is no audio or video of the proceedings. They also call Jim to investigate further and Mrs. Bishop to check his doors and make certain that none act as gateways into the Hedge. As far as anyone can tell, none of his traps in his yard were set off, and he cannot determine how he got home. Additionally, none of the his doors act as gateways.

On March 7, Chuck pays Mrs. Bishop a visit to explain the incident involving the man named Alpa Chino in his hospital room. He gives as many details as he can; Mrs. Bishop says it sounds like it could be a fae thing, and at Chuck’s suggestion that it could be demonic, she indicates that she doesn’t really know about such things, though given the strange things that she does know exist, she really shouldn’t be surprised. She says that she will try to ask around, though, and see what she can find.

Over the next couple of weeks, after Elena gets out of the hospital, the group begins organizing themselves. After meeting, they decide to train in methods of acting more efficiently as a group. Specifically, they decide to develop certain methods of information gathering as well as ways of getting creatures to go where they want them — such as away from prying eyes, or into traps. They manage to successfully train and they also begin a file on Officer Francis Hayward, noting his habits. They also learn that he apparently took some time off about ten years ago, when he was found disheveled and wandering in the woods.

On March 16, Agatha goes back to work. On March 19, she takes off to go for her surgery. After the surgery, when she asks Dr. Gallagher for a sample of the kidney, Dr. Gallagher refuses, explaining that they want to do their tests. When pressed, Dr. Gallagher closes the door and explains that she thinks Agatha’s interest in this goes above and beyond normal levels, so she explains that the kidney liquified when the air hit it, and they want to test it presently. Agatha is much relieved to hear that Dr. Gallagher isn’t part of some conspiracy trying to keep the kidney secret, and after a bit of discussion, Dr. Gallagher indicates that she is part of a group that does scientific research on strange things. She says she will forward a copy of their newsletter to Agatha.

During the day on March 28, the group assembles again to investigate the Snake-Bear’s caves. Down in the caves, Elena notes that things look cleaner and better organized than one might expect; perhaps someone has been taking care of these caves? Chuck says that the Snake-Bear was definitely smarter than he thought it was, though, so perhaps it was cleaning up after itself. Additionally, the group comes across a dead end with a picture painted on it; Jim thinks it resembles a horned snake. While everyone discusses the significance of this, Billy Jack says it might do something, and proceeds to cut his hand. Everybody else tells him not to smear his blood on it, but when some spills on the wall, the wall shakes and crumbles, revealing a stone passage sloping deeper into the earth. After a bit of shock and discussion, the wall shudders and reforms back into its original position. Eventually, it is decided that this place should be trapped so that nobody can come out of that gate; as Chuck says, this cave doesn’t appear on the map, so it is clearly a passage to elsewhere. Billy Jack goes up to his truck to get some supplies. Meanwhile, while he is gone, the others decide to open it and see if it can be activated from the other side in case it needs to be explored at a later date. When Billy Jack returns, they tell him of their plan. He agrees, and puts some of his blood in a cup in case that’s what activates the gate. Then, he and Chuck decide to go through, and after the wall reforms, they’ll try to open it from their side. If that doesn’t work, everyone else has instructions to open it within thirty seconds.

When everyone agrees, Billy Jack activates the gate and he and Chuck enter the passageway. After the gate closes, Billy Jack turns around to knock on the stonework and fumble with the knife again. Chuck, meanwhile, faces backward with the shotgun in case something comes up to meet them. He is greeted by a blond, athletic, nude girl whose skin has been flayed from her face and left arm; these raw spots are still bleeding. While brandishing the shotgun, he manages to take a picture. His shout attracts Billy Jack’s attention, who decides to bring her through. He cuts his hand, smears it on the gate, and as it opens, they step through. Everyone is understandably alarmed; Elena recognizes her as Jenna Bond, who disappeared back when she was in fifth grade. When questioned, she explains that Dr. Sherman is the one who brought her to her current state. Agatha checks her wounds, noting that she lacks a pulse, and Jim gives her his jacket. Billy Jack has an idea, and invites her up into the daylight. She seems to appreciate the warmth, and lies on the grass, running her fingers through it. The others discuss what to do while Chuck goes to his car to get a few things. When he reaches that spot, he is greeted by Johnny, who just pulled up to apparently go on a walk. Johnny follows him back and is shocked to see the girl. He scrutinizes her for a moment, and says that she’s not supposed to be here; she’s dead. When everyone starts shouting, he tells them to shut up to quiet them down; when Billy Jack tells him that’s not polite and that he ought to show more respect, he responds by telling Billy Jack that he ought not to speak of such, since that tattoo on his chest marks him as an oathbreaker. Billy Jack responds by leveling his shotgun at Johnny. In the scuffle that ensues, Katrina tries to knock his shotgun away while Jim pushes Johnny out of the way. Elena interposes herself between Billy Jack and Johnny, and Chuck tries to talk him down. Ultimately, he scuffles with Elena but cannot move past her, so when Johnny runs far enough to duck into the caves, Billy Jack gets in his truck and leaves. Everyone else chases Johnny into the caves, and when they convince him to stop and tell them what’s going on, he says that he can plainly see that the girl is dead, and from where did she come? They explain the gate, and he says that she should probably go back there, since that’s apparently a portal to whatever realm waits beyond the grave. Johnny manages to talk her back into the cave and convince her to enter the gateway. Then, thoroughly tired, everybody goes home.

Those Caught Between; Chapter 7

Monday, March 2, 2009, around 8:00 PM (and throughout the next day)

With Elena freshly relegated to a hospital bed, Agatha, Billy Jack, Chuck, and Katrina go to Bishop’s Antiquities, meeting Jim there. After Mrs. Bishop is introduced to Jim and Billy Jack, as well as Duke, they get down to cases. Chuck shows her the armor and the baton that the group acquired from the hairy man, as well as the firearm the police officer gave him. She indicates that they are what is claimed — the armor is armor, enhanced by faerie magic, and the baton is a weapon, also empowered by faerie magic. The pistol, however, is normal.

Afterward, she answers some questions. When Chuck asks whether Fetches still serve the Fae that made them, she says that all things are possible. Some Fetches don’t know what they’re Fetches, while some do. Some go about their business, some serve the True Fae, and some are actually on friendly relations with others of her kind, though that tends to be relatively rare.

As Billy Jack and Jim ask more questions, Mrs. Bishop explains a few things. She explains that, yes, she is a changeling, one of the people who was taken by the True Fae. The True Fae live beyond the Hedge in their own realm. She is not entirely certain why they take humans, but they typically use them as labor or entertainment. Typically, if those who were taken find their way home, they do so through their memories of home. However, some forget home and do not return; this is especially common among those taken as children. Incidentally, this may be part of their plot; it is theorized that children raised in the land of Faerie become the True Fae themselves as part of some arcane life cycle. The True Fae seem to see everything as a contract with their surroundings; fire both warms and burns because the two have agreed that they will interact with it in that fashion. As such, they gauge themselves by comparison. Likewise, those who are taken likely must make these arrangements to survive, granting them arcane fae traits; this is why she can identify fae items, among other things.

As Billy Jack puts forth ideas about possibly drawing the True Fae out to fight them, perhaps in a trapped area, Mrs. Bishop further explains that changelings organize themselves into survivor cultures, and there are groups of changelings who specifically fight the True Fae. Likewise, however, there are some few groups, called Loyalists, who still serve the True Fae. When Billy Jack asks if they could speak to some of these fighters, she says that it would probably be unwise, but she could try to talk to them, though she largely keeps to herself and does not engage her fellow changelings too often. When Billy Jack asks about a way to draw them out, she says that it might be possible, but she will have to ask around, which might take a couple of weeks.

Afterward, Chuck explains about the encounter with the Sasquatch man and the Men in Black the previous day. Mrs. Bishop explains that there are tribes of Men in Black living in the Hedge — this idea seems to disturb Agatha. Likewise, the Sasquatch Warrior Guard is a unit of the Draconian Doctor’s forces, essentially watchmen. As such, Billy Jack assumes that he could probably not use the captured fellow to lure the Doctor out of his domain, and Mrs. Bishop indicates that the True Fae frequently, but not always, just abandon escapees, finding it easier to take more. They are a strange lot.

Once everyone’s questions are answered, they decide to take their leave. Mrs. Bishop promises to ask her contacts about possible tips for fighting the True Fae, or ways to draw them into the open. Katrina, also having things to discuss with Mrs. Bishop, says that she will visit her later. With that, everyone leaves.

Billy Jack goes home to have a beer. Jim goes to report his findings to his masters. Katrina goes home to let Michael know that everything is all right. Chuck and Agatha go to the hospital to check on Elena.

Meanwhile, Elena has been at the hospital. After her parents left, Agent Sklar arrived, telling her that Chuck called him and suggested that someone ought to watch her in the night. The two of them make small talk before Agent Sklar asks her some questions about the other members of the cell. First, he asks about Jim Soldati, and about whether he’s part of some secret X-Files division, which Elena indicates to be the case. Then, he asks about Billy Jack, just curious if things are working out all right with him. Finally, he asks about James Eliot, Katrina’s boyfriend. Elena gets a little flustered, but manages to stammer that he’s older and that he seems all right. She then asks why he asked about James, and he replies that he’s just being thorough. After a bit of an awkward silence, Elena gets a bit more chatty before Chuck and Agatha enter.

They check on Elena and make sure she is doing well. Then, Chuck asks Agent Sklar if it would be possible to see Jonah before he leaves. Agent Sklar agrees, and leaves Agatha in charge of Elena in his stead. The two go to Jonah’s room, where Chuck briefly speaks to him. After Jonah jovially threatens Agent Sklar, Chuck explains that the Snake-Bear is dead, and gives a brief update before asking Jonah who he is; how he has all this money and a lawyer when he just appears to be some bum. Jonah explains that he’s just been around. Finally, Chuck says good bye to Jonah, and he and Agent Sklar return to Elena’s room.

After a little more chatter, Agatha and Chuck leave for the night. Elena and Agent Sklar talk a little more before she goes to sleep.

The next day, Agent Sklar leaves early and Jim Soldati comes to visit Elena. After a little discussion, the two end up playing Battleship and talking. Jim says he will be around to visit more. Elena also gets several visitors in the afternoon, largely the cheerleaders and members of the football team, though Johnny visits a little later to see how she is doing.

Meanwhile, Chuck looks up Jonah to see what he can find. After a couple of hours, the information is vague, but he finds a few references that suggest Jonah Flood to be connected with Jasper Felix, who has incidentally been sighted in Terra Lake.

That morning, as well, Katrina calls Yuri to say that he is welcome to come over and to ask for details. He says that her friends Dimitri and Mishka will likely be with him; he explains that Dimitri had to make certain he would approve of Michael. This prompts Katrina to begin stammering, eventually explaining that things are strange and Michael left. She is with James, now. After trying to find more information or even determine if Katrina is all right, Yuri finally deigns to learn more upon his trip. He says he will probably make arrangements for the trip to be in a couple of weeks. After sending his regards and hanging up, Katrina calls Mishka to comment on the fact that everyone is coming to visit. She also asks how long they think they might be, as she forgot to ask Yuri; Mishka indicates that they will probably be in Terra Lake for a week or two. Katrina then makes her way to work.

Billy Jack calls Jim and Chuck to arrange a trip to Indianapolis to meet Packrat Pete. They agree, and after a brief delay, the three are off to Indianapolis in Billy Jack’s big-rig. After an hour and a half trip, they make their way to Packrat Pete’s apartment. There they find a gaunt, sallow man in a dirty bathrobe who recognizes Billy Jack and invites them in. He explains that, regarding Billy Jack’s story about the gate and the shapechanging man who came through it, he once had the opportunity to look at a sheaf of papers that apparently belonged to the feds. He made a few photocopies of them, and found a grouping of papers that seemed to allude to a similar story. He then gives Billy Jack a set of paper-clipped, wrinkled photocopies and says that he can have them. Billy Jack asks if he is inactive on the Vigil, which he indicates that he is, but he is willing to help them in the future. They can get in contact with him through some of the local Union members. The three then take their leave and read the papers in a coffee shop before returning to Terra Lake. Apparently, it relates to a cell of hunters in Philadelphia who encountered somebody using a door as a gateway to “somewhere else.” When the man passes through it he develops strange characteristics. Apparently, things went south and resulted in the deaths of the cell — but there is decent primary source material regarding a fae incursion. The three then return to Terra Lake.

Those Caught Between; Chapter 6

Monday, March 2, 2009, various points throughout the day

The previous night, Katrina told Michael about the day’s events, and said that they will probably need his help to confront the Doctor — specifically in the form of whatever recollections he may have about his time away. He says he will try his best, though his memories are sketchy.

The next morning, Jim Soldati receives receives an early call from his employers indicating that the John Doe he recovered the previous day — that is, the man claiming to be a Sasquatch — was identified as Officer Francis Hayward with the Terra Lake Police Department. More importantly, he was never reported missing; he apparently still works there.

Early that morning, Billy Jack awakens to find that his truck has been vandalized. He steps out to find a bear trap on his front step. Additionally, his tires have been physically ripped open, a series of claw marks has been left in his driver’s side door, and a series of claw marks has also been left on his front door. He checks his house, and finding nothing else out of place, he calls his insurance company and the police to report the vandalism. Then, he calls Jim to tell him, and make sure that nobody else has been visited by anything strange in the night. The police arrive, take his statement, take photographs, and tell him that they will be in touch.

Shortly thereafter, Billy Jack receives another call from some of his other hunter associates in Indianapolis. His friends indicate that, in response to what happened yesterday regarding the hairy fellow in the woods, there is someone with information regarding a similar phenomenon. However, the man who has this information is “Packrat Pete,” a fellow hunter who ran afoul of something and became a total recluse and an obsessive hoarder. Billy Jack will need to go to his apartment in Indianapolis if he wants to talk to him.

Jim calls Chuck and Agatha to make certain everyone is all right. He texts Elena when determining that she is in school, and he calls Katrina after he learns her number.

Chuck, meanwhile, is alerted that there is a story in the woods, but first, he has a visitor. The man, in police uniform, introduces himself as Officer Francis Hayward, though Chuck notices that he is somehow wrong. When the man asks for Chuck to close the door, he grudgingly accepts. He then says that Chuck has surely noticed the strange things in town. He then presents a parcel, which he instructs Chuck to open; there is a pistol inside. Officer Hayward asks for the paper back, and Chuck gives it to him, sliding the gun into his desk. When he asks why Officer Hayward gave that to him, he answers that it is for his own protection. He admonishes Chuck to be careful, and then leaves. With all his other business complete, he starts to get ready to go to the woods when he hears what happened. Apparently, a couple of teenagers died in the woods last night, the victim of an apparent bear attack. He makes sure that Agatha and Billy Jack are updated, and then travels with his crew to the woods.

When he arrives at the site, he learns that it appears that one of the kids blundered into a bear trap and could not get away when the animal attacked. Chuck checks and notes that the bear trap is not near any of the Snake-Bear’s caves, and has evidently been moved. Additionally, it was not dragged to its currently location, suggesting that it was specifically lifted and moved. During breaks, he manages to coordinate with the others to arrange some sort of meeting in the evening. He also manages to enlist the aid of one of the technicians to see if he can track the “bear.” They manage to track it back to a cave, which prompts the technician to call animal control and Chuck to call Jim, asking if there is anything he can do to prevent animal control from investigating the caves. Jim agrees and calls his superiors.

By this time, most people have heard the news. Despite not having seen any news, word spreads through the school so Elena knows that a couple of goth kids were killed in the woods, evidently by a bear attack.

Chuck also takes an opportunity to call Mrs. Bishop, who indicates that she received his message and just hadn’t had the opportunity to call him back. The two agree to meet this evening after her shop closes.

While Chuck is in the woods, Agatha is getting insistent messages from Rhys that something must be done about the Snake-Bear. She calls Agent Sklar to ask him how one would go about casting gold bullets; he recommends filling shotgun shells with chunks of gold, because that’s easier. From there, she calls around until she gets a hold of Jim, and invites him to Chuck’s house. There, the two of them empty some shotgun shells and attempt to reload them with chunks of gold jewelery that Agatha and Jim obtained from some pawn shops. Finding the process of loading and crimping to be a difficult task, Agatha calls Chuck and asks who might be a good person to help. He recommends Billy Jack. As such, they call Billy Jack, who comes to Chuck’s house, having obtained new tires earlier in the day. After a few hours, he manages to fill and crimp seven shells with chunks of gold for fighting the Snake-Bear.

Finally, as everyone’s business for the day winds to a close, Chuck makes his way back home. As she has been communicating with the others during the day, Elena goes home and gets ready to go to Chuck’s house; having heard that they may prepare to fight the Snake-Bear, she gathers her gold jewelery so that she can wrap it around her hands as an improvised weapon. When everyone winds up at Chuck’s house, Agatha calls Katrina to let her know what has happened. She lets Michael know, and since he has not yet met Jim, he decides to stay behind, but says that he will see her later.

Once everyone has assembled, they are brought up to date. When Katrina asks, Chuck explains what happened to the kids in the woods. Likewise, Jim explains that the person they captured yesterday is Officer Francis Hayward with the Terra Lake Police Department, and he is still there. Chuck explains his encounter with Officer Hayward, and concludes that he is a Fetch. He also explains that he has arranged a meeting with Mrs. Bishop later, and decides to bring the gun that Officer Hayward gave him as well as the other items left behind. Billy Jack also explains how his automobile was vandalized in the night, presumably by the Snake-Bear, and further explains that someone in Indianapolis, a person named Packrat Pete, has more information about the Snake-Bear. The group starts to divide into two; one group that will talk to Mrs. Bishop, and another that will talk to Packrat Pete. However, as Rhys begins to send increasingly insistent messages that the Snake-Bear must be stopped, Billy Jack recalls that Packrat Pete’s information actually refers to the Lost encountered on the previous day. With this information, and Rhys’s repetitive writing and threatening, the plan changes; the group will go to the woods, and try to draw the Snake-Bear out, then attack it with their gold weapons. Specifically, Billy Jack plans on getting a few extra shotguns, and loading them with the gold shot. Then, once everyone decides that Elena is the fastest, she will try to attract the thing out of its cave. Once it is out, Billy Jack will have trapped the area to slow it down, and when it is sufficiently slowed, everyone will fire upon it. Everyone agrees to the plan, and gets to work.

First, they go to Wal-Mart and pick up a few shotguns; Agatha, Billy Jack, Chuck, and Katrina are each outfitted with them, while Jim uses his pistol. Agatha, Billy Jack, and Katrina each get two of the gold-filled shotgun shells, while Chuck gets one. Then, they make their way to the woods. Making sure everyone else understand what is happening, especially Elena, Billy Jack sets up five trip wires in a straight line from a cave entrance. Then, he lays down a puddle of slick at the end of this path, hoping that if the wires don’t slow it down, the slick will. Finally, he has everyone position themselves at a trip wire with himself at the end. Without anyone’s knowledge, he sets a motion detector behind him, just in case. Before everyone moves into position, Chuck makes sure that Elena is outfitted with the armor they took from the man the previous day, just to give her some extra protection. She wraps the chains and rings around her hands, and descends into the cave.

Finding this place to be a cave network, she just shouts down into it, eventually hearing a rustling. As the strange, reptilian form of the Snake-Bear slides into view, she starts to run. She almost makes it to the first trip wire before the Snake-Bear catches up to her, tearing through the armor and driving its claws across her chest and stomach. She staggers back as Chuck, seeing the situation, unloads one of his barrels, the one that doesn’t contain gold, at it. Elena swings at it with her gold-laden fist, and leaves a smoldering wound in its shoulder. It gives a satisfying roar as the strike connects. Jim fires at it, striking it in the shoulder again, though this wound does not smolder and smoke as the bullet rips through. Billy Jack, though overcome with fear, manages to stand his ground and fires a panicked volley at it, striking it in the torso with chunks of gold. Katrina’s shot misses, and Agatha is overcome to the point that she starts to run away.

As the bullet wound it sustained from Jim closes, the Snake-Bear rears back for a second strike on Elena, but she is swift enough to dodge its sharp claws. Chuck fires at it again, the gold in the shell biting into its flesh. It is finally dropped when Elena swings across its jaw with her gold fist. As it falls, it begins to dissolve into a greasy, putrid substance. Chuck goes to get Agatha and calm her down, while Katrina unloads her second shot into the Snake-Bear’s corpse. Billy Jack, having calmed, starts to gather his equipment. Katrina grabs a first aid kit and makes sure that Elena is okay. Once Agatha is calmed down, Chuck takes photographs while Agatha takes samples, though she only really gets soil samples as the rest of its remains dissipate. Jim agrees to take Elena to the hospital while the others clean up. Since Chuck notes the time to be close to 8:00, everyone else decides to accompany him to Bishop’s Antiquities.

On their way out of the woods, Elena and Jim notice an African-American man sitting by the lake. Parked next to him is a big, black SUV, and it appears that he is fishing. Since Elena should get to the hospital, Elena calls Chuck to let him know about this man, especially since he is close enough to have heard the shots. Chuck and the others agree to check it out before they go to meet Mrs. Bishop. Jim manages to get Elena processed without incident, and her parents come to check on her.

Meanwhile, Chuck calls Agent Sklar to let him know that the bear attacks should no longer be a problem. Additionally, since there are Fetches all over town and they were threatened yesterday, he asks if Agent Sklar could secure extra protection for Elena. He says he will see what he can do. Then, the group goes over to the lake, where they speak to the man there. He says that he heard a little commotion, but he figured it was nothing, and is just fishing. Billy Jack notes that he is hiding a pistol underneath his clothes, and mentions that the lake is known for some drownings and is largely infested with snakehead. The man says he’ll be careful, and these things shouldn’t be bothersome. Just before they leave, Chuck takes down the man’s license plate, noting that it is a California plate. He gives this information to Jim, who calls his superiors and learns that the car is registered to a Tyrell Washington. His record suggests he has done some stints in prison, but is out legally.

With all this information in hand, Agatha, Billy Jack, Chuck, and Katrina go to Bishop’s Antiquities. With Elena having been processed at the hospital, Jim does the same.

Those Caught Between; Chapter 5

Sunday, March 1, 2009, various points throughout the day

Everyone awakens and begins going about their respective routines until they have to meet that afternoon. Chuck goes to church with his parents, though he plans on later ensuring that his equipment is in order for the expedition to the caves. Agatha prepares similarly, as does Billy Jack and Jim Soldati. Katrina simply takes time to relax before the expedition, and to make sure she has a knife and a few tools at the ready. Elena does homework, and then goes to work.

While at work, she is greeted by an older gentleman with grey hair and beard, wearing a black suit and leather duster. He greets her by saying, “Very few mongooses, however wise and old they may be, care to follow a cobra into its hole,” and then proceeds to say that she and her cell are doing good work, but must take care to carefully research and to not rely on his aid. He then gives her a manila envelope before leaving. After she leaves work, she reads the contents — an old legend about an Indian warrior named Red Horn’s Fury and his fight against the Snake-Bear — and decides to bring it up when everyone meets in the woods.

Around 2:30 PM, everyone arrives at the appointed spot. Chuck makes certain that everyone has photocopies of Jonah’s maps. Elena then explains that she was approached by an older man who gave her the parcel she currently has. She gives it to Chuck, who reads it aloud. From the story, he gathers that the Snake-Bear is vulnerable to gold, and also decides that he should do further research on the story by asking Clark Borde and doing research at the library.

Around this time, everyone is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Johnny, who has appeared without being previously heard and without his car. He has a distant look and absently responds to everyone’s inquiries about gold. He then explains that the Dragon is going to come for Elena, though he is not certain what precisely will happen. He starts to wander off into the woods when Chuck and Elena both feel a surge wrongness from the gate between the trees, and a forested path opens between them. Out from the path steps two, strange, angular men in dark suits and a muscular, hairy beast with a strange armored, silver jumpsuit and a sparking baton. When he clears the gate, however, he simply appears as a hairy man wearing a flimsy silver jumpsuit and football pads and carrying a scuffed police baton wrapped in copper wire and duct taped to a taser.

The Men in Black level their weapons at Elena and indicate that she will come with them. Before a true parley can occur, however, Agatha — frightened and enraged at the sight of the Men in Black — and yanks the shotgun out of Chuck’s hands, ready to fire. Billy Jack has his revolver while Katrina has her knife in hand. Billy Jack tries to get the gun out of Agatha’s hands while Elena holds her hands in the air, Katrina waits to see what will happen, and Jim positions himself protectively between Elena and the Men in Black. Chuck, also, tries to maintain order. Agatha, however, discharges the shotgun, and one of the Men in Black falls to the ground, a sucking wound erupting in his chest. He loses consciousness and breathes shallowly as a growing pool of scarlet forms around him. As he falls, he discharges his firearm, which grazes Chuck’s arm.

In the scuffle that ensues, Billy Jack shoots the hairy man in the silvery jumpsuit, though it seems to only cause him to stagger slightly as it bounces off his armor. The stun gun at the end of his baton starts to spark and hum as he reaches Billy Jack; when he strikes Billy Jack with it, he is momentarily stunned and acts only with great difficulty. Chuck grabs the fallen Man in Black’s gun, while Elena and Katrina try to gauge the situation. The remaining Man in Black levels his gun at Agatha and fires, managing to miss her in the confusion. However, when she fires the shotgun at him, the shot hits home, dropping another Man in Black with a sucking chest wound.

The Men in Black down, Chuck grabs the other weapon while Agatha starts to reload the shotgun. Billy Jack, Elena, Jim, and Katrina then struggle with the hairy man. Billy Jack fires another shot before the group tries to drag the hairy man to the ground and beat on him; when Jim pins him, he manages to break free and make his way back to the ground, but eventually loses consciousness from the combined assault of the group, as well as a discharge from Agatha’s newly reloaded shotgun.

As the dust settles, everyone realizes that Chuck is talking to Agent Sklar, who called him during the battle. Chuck quickly hangs up as Agent Sklar, having heard the struggle and the gunshots, says he will shortly make his way to the woods. Billy Jack sends Duke to retrieve some chains from his truck, while Katrina and Agatha check on Chuck and the fallen, hairy fellow. Agatha also collects samples from the Men in Black. Chuck searches the Men in Black, finding only some random odds and ends, and when Johnny makes a comment about the struggle and begins to walk further into the woods, Elena follows him to determine what is the matter.

Duke returns with the chains and Billy Jack makes certain the man is carefully bound. Elena follows Johnny to learn that he is looking for a watchtower of some sort, and Chuck says that he thinks that is further north, referring to the legend regarding Red Horn’s Fury and the Snake-Bear. Johnny, however, says that he thinks it is in the woods. He walks up to a tree and begins to scratch something on it with his pocketknife; both Chuck and Billy Jack attempt to restrain them, but he manages to struggle free and finish his carving…at which point he looks around, rather confused. When asked, he explains that everything just went strange, but he thinks he is okay at present. He does, however, ask Agatha why the thing around her neck — the gear, actually — seems strange, and he asks the same question about the chained, hairy man. Everyone seems rather puzzled at the development, though they do not have long to consider this as the Men in Black melt into viscous, black goo. Agatha finds that her samples have also turned into the stuff, as did the guns that Chuck took.

Shortly after this, Agent Sklar arrives to see what has transpired, and he also has the opportunity to meet Jim Soldati; when Jim Soldati indicates that his government position is classified, Agent Sklar responds with a sarcastic, “Great…” Chuck then explains what just happened. Before things progress, Elena agrees to take Johnny home, and indicates that she will likely return shortly.

On the drive back to Johnny’s house, Elena asks what happened. Johnny indicates that when he awoke this morning, everything seemed weird, like a medieval fantasy. He knows he went around looking for Elena to warn her about the people coming for her, courtesy of the Dragon, or the Doctor as he is sometimes called, and then he went to seek a tower which just turned out to be a tree. He indicates that he carved his name on it, and then absently asks her why she is thinking about prom at a time like this. Surprised, she indicates that it’s coming up and important, and then asks how he determined that. He indicates that it is written all over her face. After she is convinced that everything is all right for the moment, and finding his car still at his house, she drops him off and returns to the woods.

Meanwhile, Agent Sklar explains his past twenty-four hours; he and his partner took a trip to Illinois to the Dew Drop Inn. They found three people behind it; one was partially eaten, one was clawed to death, and one appeared to have been strangled; that last one’s clothes were removed. Likewise, their pistols were missing, and they had no other equipment, suggesting that whatever killed them took their things. He also indicates his unease at the fact that the three men were indentical; their blemishes and features were pretty much the same, which doesn’t even really happen with identical siblings. He also indicated that Dr. Sherman appeared to have committed suicide in his cell, and the Jane Doe that was hiding in Katrina’s apartment with the big man also died in her jail cell, though she appeared to be strangled; this suggests that she was either killed by a police officer, or someone who can walk through walls.

As conversation winds to a close and people start deciding what to do, the hairy man starts to rouse. Initially refusing to talk, he starts to explain that the Draconian Doctor of Dread Dark will come for them all, and that he is a proud member of the Doctor’s Sasquatch Warrior Guard. When Billy Jack infers that there is a war occurring, the hairy man suggests that he simply does not understand. He further indicates that the Doctor takes people for his own purposes, and suggests that he was likely taken in this fashion. Finally, he strains and breaks the chains, bolting for the gateway between the trees. Jim tries to grab him, though he manages to shake him off, and everyone else levels firearms while telling him to stop. When he refuses, Chuck is the one who strikes him in the legs with a shotgun blast, dropping him in the dirt.

As Elena returns, everyone figures out what to do. Katrina calls Michael to make certain he is all right, and when she determines that her help is no longer required and that there will not be any cave expedition this afternoon, she decides to go home. Billy Jack is going to set some traps — specifically bear traps and a couple of spike traps — around the cavern entrances and throughout the woods in the hopes of catching or slowing the Snake-Bear. Chuck tries to call Mrs. Bishop, but only getting her voicemail, he leaves a message for her to call him back. Agatha, Chuck, and Elena are going to go to the mall to ask Clark Borde some questions. Jim Soldati decides to call his organization to get rid of the hairy man, but says he will call Chuck when he is finished.

As Agatha, Chuck, and Elena go to the mall, Chuck mentions finding the axe; Agatha argues that they don’t need to deal with any more ghosts, and that they know someone who can make gold anyway. Agreeing that this is sound, they decide to go with this plan of action. When they get to the mall, Chuck goes to Good Medicine and talks to Clark; Clark indicates that Red Horn is a Southern Cult deity, and his area of expertise is more with the Miami tribe. Even so, though, the legend makes reference to things that the Miami tribe also indicate in their legends. Otherwise, though, he does not really know much about it. Everyone then moves to the library, but essentially find similar information. Finally, everyone makes their way home.

Elena makes one final call, however; she calls Paul to ask about the gold project, and he says he is going to Chicago, but will likely be back in Terra Lake in a few days. She then passes this information on to Chuck and the others.

Those Caught Between; Chapter 4

Saturday, February 28, 2009, just before midnight

Having returned to the motel, Billy Jack and Agatha get in his truck and start going back to the Lake House. Katrina bandages Chuck’s wound before getting into her car, followed by Elena and Michael. Having left, everyone sees Paul’s car returning to the motel; he says that he should probably check out, and then goes inside before returning to the car. He follows Katrina’s car back to the Lake House.

Once back at the Lake House, Billy Jack asks what happened. They indicate that they rescued This Way Comes, but the other one got away when a group of identical triplets attacked and threatened the group. Billy Jack is less than pleased about the one that got away, but says that things could be worse. After everyone is settled, Billy Jack gets This Way Comes some clothes and Agatha asks him some questions about his imprisonment. He indicates that he didn’t really know where he was; he was captured somewhere in the vicinity of Terra Lake, brought to some unknown facility (evidently in San Francisco), and experimented upon. They removed his arm and some of his essence with it. He is not certain how they accomplished this — to his knowledge, even dangerous, cannibalistic Prometheans cannot really do that — or what purpose they have for his stolen arm. He never met the unnamed, biting Promethean before, and only really encountered him on the truck.

Once questions have been asked, Paul, Lilith, and This Way Comes leave to find a hotel before setting out in the morning. Everyone else goes to their homes; Chuck specifically sneaks into his home to make sure his parents don’t hear him getting home late.

The next day, everyone goes through their routines. Katrina spends some time at the dance studio. Elena goes to work at Claire’s. Agatha compiles her notes from the previous evening. Chuck gets his thoughts together and makes sure his work knows that he will be returning on Monday. Billy Jack speaks to some of his contacts to learn if they know anything about Prometheans or other weird things, and hears back that they don’t know anything about the Snake-Bear. He also monitors the news in Illinois to see if he hears about any strange animal attacks or anything of that nature. Finally, he does some research on Perkona, and after finding that he really doesn’t hear anything about them, he looks to see if they have any construction-related job listings online. Finding a need for a maintenance man, he applies.

Chuck receives a call from Agent Sklar, indicating that he has some papers to give him. When the two meet, Agent Sklar gives him photocopies of the two maps Jonah made. Chuck, likewise, tells Agent Sklar about what happened in Illinois. He says he will investigate, and while he is not certain about the legality of transporting reanimated corpses across state lines, he knows that identical triplets working for a biotechnology company sounds suspiciously like human cloning, which is definitely illegal. Since Chuck thinks that something illegal is happening at Perkona, Agent Sklar says he’ll keep an eye on the situation.

When Chuck receives a knock on his door from a man introducing himself as James Soldati — from the Government — he is understandably concerned. Mr. Soldati indicates that he is part of a government organization — he is not at liberty to name the one in question — that hunts supernatural creatures and helps others who do the same. He says he will also be speaking to the others in Chuck’s group. Chuck indicates that he would rather speak to them first, but he will call Mr. Soldati back and let him know about a meeting. James Soldati agrees and the two part.

Chuck then calls everyone to let them know what happened. They decide to leave “James” — Michael, that is — out of the situation due to the delicate nature of that situation. Likewise, Billy Jack agrees to get a hotel room where they can all meet. Everyone agrees to meet at 5:00 PM, and Chuck calls James Soldati again and lets him know that they’re meeting at 5:30 PM.

After getting the hotel room, Billy Jack messes with the door handle and sets up some motion detectors so he can make certain that only he or someone he knows is accessing the room.

While everyone else is getting ready, James Soldati goes to the hospital to visit Jonah and asks him some questions. Jonah indicates that Chuck and Elena are okay, but Agatha — his wife, he says — hasn’t even had the decency to come and visit. Katrina, meanwhile, is pure evil; she was a bad influence on Michael even before he disappeared, and she has some sort of demon-alien baby inside of her. Of course, James Soldati is free to learn more information when his book comes out; hopefully, there might be a movie in the works, as well. After some discussion, James Soldati thanks Jonah and leaves.

When five o’clock rolls around, everyone makes their way to the appointed location. Chuck makes sure everyone is aware of the situation with this government agent, and Billy Jack indicates that some of his other hunter contacts are familiar with government-sponsored hunters, and this sounds like it could be legitimate. Chuck also mentions the maps to the woods and the local caves, and indicates that he might like to go spelunking tomorrow. Everyone else agrees.

At 5:30, James Soldati arrives. Since he is not at liberty to say much of anything, nobody else is really inclined to give him much of anything. Finally, Billy Jack manages to get him to open up a little, saying he served in Afghanistan and helped develop the Marine Martial Arts program. He apparently saw strange things in Afghanistan and got recruited by his current organization at that time. He also indicates that he knows a decent amount about the hunter cell, remarking on their encounter with the Snake-Bear the previous month. They speak a little about it, and then Chuck indicates that he might feel a little better if they work together. He mentions that he has maps to the caves, and would James Soldati be willing to help them investigate? James agrees. Not wanting to deal with any more clandestine stuff, Katrina takes her leave and says she will meet everyone the following day in the woods. After a bit more discussion, everyone else takes their leave. James Soldati briefly talks to Elena first, making certain that her new lifestyle on “the Vigil,” as he calls it, has not impacted her life overmuch. Afterward, everyone goes to their respective homes. Billy Jack keeps monitoring the news, while Elena goes to hang out with some of her friends, Katrina goes home to see Michael and tell him what happened, and Agatha and Chuck go to Wal-Mart to get some gear appropriate for spelunking.

Those Caught Between; Chapter 3

Friday, February 27, 2009, at about 8:00 PM.

After discussions have been made, everyone assembles their equipment — Katrina retrieves Chuck’s shotgun at Billy Jack’s request, Elena gets a spare change of clothes, and Agatha makes sure she has her computer and her chemistry equipment. Chuck, Elena, Katrina, and Michael get into Katrina’s car and Agatha, Billy Jack, and Duke get into Billy Jack’s truck and they start driving west along the interstate until they hear from Paul and Lilith. After about two hours of driving, Paul calls to indicate that they have just pulled into the Dew Drop Inn, just inside Illinois. The two cars make the remaining fifty miles to the little motel out in the middle of nowhere, where they see Paul’s car, a tractor-trailer truck with a Perkona trailer attached — the truck itself is red with a lightning bolt along the side — and a couple of other cars in the parking lot. A Waffle House is down the road.

Chuck calls Paul and lets him know that everyone has arrived. After some discussion, everyone goes into Paul and Lilith’s room to discuss the plan of action. Paul is introduced to Billy Jack and Duke — he seems quite amazed and humored by the presence of a smoking chimpanzee — and Lilith does likewise, though Duke takes a position as far away from Lilith as possible and just stares at her the entire time. After introductions are made, it is decided that Billy Jack is going to talk to Hank “Bearclaw” Samson in an attempt to find out if he knows anything about the truck’s payload and to keep him busy while the others break into the truck. The two groups then split; Billy Jack walks over to the Waffle House to see if Bearclaw is there, while the remainder of the group goes to investigate the truck.

Billy Jack enters the Waffle House to find Hank Samson, and after asking him about his haul framed as an urban legend about bodies scraping in the back of the truck, he determines that Hank doesn’t know anything about the haul. He then continues to talk with Hank to keep him busy.

Meanwhile, the others go to the truck. After Chuck tries to pick the lock on the back, Lilith takes his lockpicks and gives it a try. She manages to open the door. Inside, there is a lot of biotechnology equipment. Among other things are two large, white pods bearing a vague resemblance to coffins. Lilith points out the one bearing This Way Comes and the one bearing the stranger. Each has an electronic lock on the side. After some quick discussion, Agatha asks Michael if he can do something to disable the lock. He says he can, and after touching it, the lock shorts out. Having found a toolbox and some assorted items, Chuck and Paul go to work prying open the lid. After a heave, they manage to break the door off its hinges and open it to reveal a somewhat large, nude, Caucasian man with a big, black beard lying in some sort of brine. His right arm appears to be neatly amputated, though he is otherwise uninjured. When he sees Lilith, he seems pleased and indicates that he’ll go with everyone. Brief introductions are made, and he introduces himself as This Way Comes, though he explains that he is quite groggy and thinks he has probably been drugged. Chuck and Paul manage to get him out of the pod and wrap a shipping blanket around him. When he suggests that they have another one captured who probably doesn’t deserve this, either, Chuck and Paul decide to open that pod, too. Michael disables the lock, and Chuck and Paul again pry it open with a crowbar. This time, they find a thin, jaundiced, emaciated, nude man inside. He takes a moment to compose himself, and then leaps up. Elena tries to use the door to block him from hurting anyone. Paul strikes him with the crowbar. The man, meanwhile, grows fangs and takes a bite out of Chuck’s arm. Katrina, having been given Billy Jack’s gun in case of emergency, cocks it and tells him not to move. Agatha starts looking around in her bag for a sedative of some sort. Chuck, meanwhile, just tries to make certain that he won’t get hurt again.

The fight quickly changes as the man sees the odds against him and starts to run away. Within moments, Chuck, Elena, and Katrina are all trying to drag him down while Agatha puts sedative in a needle and Paul hits him in the kidney with the crowbar. Agatha manages to inject something into him while the others finally knock him to the ground, and that is roughly the time when they hear voices telling them to halt. Three men — brown hair, dress shirts and khakis, unassuming features, silenced pistols, and all three of them looking the same, like triplets or something — tell them to stop what they are doing. They drop their items and step back from the struggling man on the ground, who then leaps up and jumps from the truck into the group of identical men. Paul then closes the door on the truck as the fanged man and the three other men begin struggling outside. He says that they should probably scatter when he throws open the door, on the count of three. Everyone gathers their items, Chuck does his best to wipe his blood from the floor and his arm, and then Paul starts counting. When he hits three, he throws open the door on the back of the truck. He and Lilith grab This Way Comes and start carrying him. Chuck, Elena, and Katrina close and padlock the door on the truck. Everyone sees as the monstrous man runs into the woods, pursued by the three identical men.

Chuck sends a text message to Billy Jack, letting him know that they need to go now. Billy Jack thanks Hank Samson for the opportunity to talk to him, and then pays for his meal before he leaves. Agatha waits by the truck for Billy Jack to return. Chuck, Elena, Katrina, and Michael return to Katrina’s car to wait for Billy Jack to get back. Paul, Lilith, and This Way Comes load into his car and get ready to go.

Those Caught Between; Chapter 2

Sunday, February 22, 2009, throughout the day and following week

Chuck awakens to the smell of clove cigarette smoke, and can see a silhouette in the darkened room, illuminated only by the glowing cigarette. As introductions are made, the figure introduces itself as Alpa Chino and tosses Chuck a can of “Booty Sweat.” He turns on the lights by clapping, and reveals himself as a shaggy-headed, vaguely sinister man with definite glam overtones and eyes like a caged lion. He explains to Chuck that he wants him to retrieve a blastula — the ball of cells that exists before the tube-within-a-tube body plan — from the biomedical waste. If he does so, he can remove the brand on Chuck’s chest. Chuck disagrees, and then Alpa offers to give him information; he will answer any question truthfully, but as a toll, he will then offer one piece of information that Chuck will not want to hear. It may be an uncomfortable truth, or it may be a prophecy that will come true. Chuck agrees and asks him what he is doing here. Alpa says he comes from another dimension, and is doing a favor for a friend who might want to resell this thing that he steals. Alpa also says that Chuck will probably never see him again. He then tells Chuck that his parents, who were going to visit to see how he is doing, will not arrive in Terra Lake, because their plane is going to crash. For a moment, Chuck sits, stunned, but recovers when he asks if Alpa will save his parents if he does this task for him. Alpa agrees. Chuck then agrees.

He gives Chuck a set of doctor’s scrubs and puts a sticker — a yellow smiley face with a red smudge on it, just like the Comedian’s badge from Watchmen — onto the machinery. When Chuck is disconnected from the machines, they continue to take his vital signs, as normal. Chuck dresses and hobbles down the hall behind Alpa. The doctors, as they pass, do not seem to acknowledge Alpa.

They finally arrive in the biomedical waste in the basement. Alpa gives Chuck some equipment and sets him to work at picking the lock. Chuck manages to open the door, and Alpa pulls out a large monocle with an iron rim, odd runes, and an emerald lens. He looks through the waste before pulling out a bag, which he then places into his own gym bag that he carries. He and Chuck return to Chuck’s room, Chuck changes back into his hospital gown, and Alpa hooks him back up to the machines. He removes the sticker, crumples it and throws it in the trash, and then he takes his things, turns out the lights, and leaves. Chuck does not return to sleep.

Things are quiet as everyone goes about their business. Chuck is recuperating in the hospital. Agatha is going shopping and running some other errands. Elena goes to work at Claire’s.

Billy Jack visits Chuck in his hospital room — Duke is asked to wait out in the hall — and Katrina and “James” arrive shortly after he does. Chuck notices that Katrina no longer seems odd. Billy Jack explains to the others some of the things that he has encountered while searching for the creatures of the night, while Chuck and Katrina explain a little about the fae things they have encountered. When Chuck indicates that the rest of this conversation might be better at a later time, Billy Jack exchanges information and leaves to go look around the hospital. When left in the room with Katrina — “James” goes to use the bathroom — Chuck then explains to her about Alpa Chino and the fact that he thinks he may have aided in the taking of her baby. Though Katrina is upset and finds the thing rather creepy, she does appreciate the fact that she doesn’t really have to deal with it anymore. Chuck also gives her three things he managed to acquire; the crumpled sticker, the clove cigarette butt, and the can of Booty Sweat. After she and “James” leave, Chuck turns on the news and learns about the situation at the mall.

While at work, a thin, imposing man with a shaved head walks into Claire’s and asks Elena if she is Elena MacKenzie. When she indicates that she is, he explains that he is Jonah’s friend and gives her the fake ID for which she asked. Then he indicates that he has need of her; as the gun comes out and his friends walk into Claire’s, he explains that he needs to get Jonah out of the hospital, and a hostage would be most useful, particularly if that hostage is Terra Lake’s golden girl. The man, Richard Anton Hiller, calls and makes his demands — namely a van, Jonah, and a route to Canada — and after a few back-and-forth calls, the group shifts to the hospital to pick up Jonah.

At the hospital, they encounter Agent Sklar and his partner, who suggests to Elena that she may hear a loud pop. He does not elaborate further. Richard Hiller then takes his group and they start moving Jonah outside. When they get outside, though, there are two loud pops and the guns being held to Elena’s head and her manager’s head are broken by sniper fire. The police descend on the assembled gunmen and the situation is brought to a close.

After being checked out at the hospital, Elena visits Chuck while waiting for her parents, and she manages to briefly explain the situation. Once Katrina and Michael get back to the hotel — first checking on her apartment and then talking to her landlord to see how things are going and if she can still live there — they turn on the news to learn about the situation at the mall and the hospital. Katrina calls Chuck, and he explains what he can. Likewise, he ends up talking to Agatha and explaining what little he can. He also asks if she can bring his laptop by at some point, and explains that Katrina has some samples to give her. She indicates that she might be around the next day.

The next day goes reasonably quietly. Elena gets a phone call from Paul saying that he is following a semi-truck that Lilith claims is carrying her creator This Way Comes along with another Promethean. After asking, he says it appears to be a biotech firm, “Perkona.” Elena tells him that Perkona just bought out Phoenix Chemicals in Terra Lake, so they may be coming back to Terra Lake. The two indicate they will be in touch over the coming week to figure out what to do. Elena then calls Chuck and tells him about it. Chuck then calls Paul again and gets Lilith, who explains that she can sense This Way Comes on board. Additionally, she thinks she probably would not like the other Created passenger, again by sensing him. Again, the two resolve to remain in touch with one another during the week.

When Agatha arrives later that evening, Chuck explains the situation with Perkona and also tells her about Alpa Chino, accidentally revealing Katrina’s miscarriage. Agatha then visits Katrina and Michael to retrieve the samples from Alpa Chino so she can run them in the lab. She finds that the DNA on the cigarette butt is totally anomalous, yielding impossible results. The sticker and energy drink, however, appear normal. She then tells these results to Chuck.

Throughout the week, things are quiet. He speaks to Kenneth Woodward to get the keys to the missile silo, and then Kenneth leaves for California. Chuck’s parents arrive and start staying at his house. Chuck is released on Thursday, and everyone agrees to meet Friday to discuss Billy Jack and to plan what they will do about the truck carrying This Way Comes.

Friday evening arrives and everyone meets at the cabin atop the missile silo, which Chuck codenames “the Lake House.” After everyone is briefed on current events — Alpa Chino, Billy Jack and the attack on Katrina, the miscarriage, the hostage situation, and the situation with Perkona — they decide to call Billy Jack and invite him over.

When Billy Jack arrives, they explain the situation with Paul and Lilith — Lilith is Created, but doesn’t seem to want to hurt anyone. Likewise, they don’t want to hurt anyone; they just want to save This Way Comes as a favor to Lilith, and to learn why Perkona might be transporting people by truck across country. Likewise, what else might they be transporting? Billy Jack feels a little odd about breaking into a truck — being an old trucker himself — but he understands the concern with shipping people or things across country. Elena calls Lilith and learns the truck’s license plate, and then Billy Jack calls some of his contacts and learns that the driver of that shipment is Hank “Bearclaw” Samson. Deciding that trying to talk to Bearclaw about the shipment might alert him and connect Billy Jack’s name to it, they decide that they will probably try to catch him at the next rest stop and peek in his truck.


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